NEW DELHI :
The Delhi High court on Tuesday clarified that the last date for public to send suggestions and objections with regard to draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification 2020 is 11 August.
“In view of the aforesaid notification, due to the covid-19 lockdown, the time limit was extended for 60 days but it appears that the last date is 30 June. This is an error apparent on the face of record. Looking at notification published on 11 April, 60 days time was granted which were to be over on 11 June and then the time was extended by 60 days so that would be over on 11 August." Chief Justice DN Patel said while dictating the order orally during the virtual hearing.
The bench headed by Chief Justice DN Patel added that a detailed order would be passed during the course of the day.
The plea had stated that on 23 March, Centre published a draft notification on Environmental Impact Assessment (Draft EIA Notification 2020/ Draft Notification) and, as per Rule 5 of the Environment Protection Rules, sought objections or suggestions from members of the public. However, on account of the covid-19 pandemic, which is a force majeure event, the public has been unable to comment meaningfully on the draft.
The plea filed by environmental activist Vikrant Tongad, seeks to protect the constitutional right of people to a clean environment and human health.
The draft notification proposes significant changes to the existing framework and is likely to affect the rights of the public significantly, according to the plea. Comments from public are all the more necessary when their interests are so significantly at stake, it said. The plea had alleged that extension notification itself is contradictory and unclear as to the exact duration of extension of notice period.